Ypotron (1966)

AKA: Operation ‘Y’
Country: Italy / Spain / France
Director: George Finley (Giorgio Stegani)
Starring: Louis Davilla, Gaia Germani, Alfredo Mayo, Jesús Puente, Janine Reynaud, Alberto Dalbés
Music: Nico Fidenco

I was struck by a strange feeling of dejavu when I watched the title sequence in Ypotron. The titles feature scenes of our hero, Robby Logan (Louis Davilla) frolicking around in Acapulco. There’s nothing extraordinary in that, but the footage is shown in negative, so the crystal blue waters look orange with black peaks. It almost looks like a fire ball. But that’s when it struck me – I had seen another Eurospy film that had the title sequence shown in negative. Racking my brain I finally came up with Espionage In Tangiers, which also starred Louis Davilla.

Naturally enough, this made me wonder if these two films were a part of a series? A quick glance at the indispensable Eurospy Guide yielded no results – well not on initial inspection. You see in this film Davilla plays Robby Logan. Some foreign film posters indicate that the character is also known as Lemmy Logan (possibly trying to cash in on the popular Lemmy Caution character). Those who take a quick look at the poster above – courtesy of David Deal’s excellent EuroSpy poster gallery – will notice that Davilla’s character was also called Mike Murphy (Agent 077 – no less). Likewise in Espionage In Tangiers, Davilla’s character is lumbered with a few names. One of them happens to be Marc Mato – in some territories the film was known as Marc Mato, agente s.077. But as you may have already guessed, in English versions, the character is Mike Murphy. At this point I am feeling pretty smug that I may have stumbled onto a new spy series for me to investigate – but having said all that – let’s be realistic – these are EuroSpy films and they will latch onto any marketing device they can. As you can already see, both films Ypotron and Espionage In Tangiers are also trying to worm their way into the 077 series, but in reality they aren’t official entries. Equally some marketeer or distributor may have tried to rope these films together to make it seem like a series. The truth is I don’t know, but that doesn’t really matter. You either enjoy EuroSpy films or you don’t. If you don’t then my investigative journey is of little consequence. If you do, then you realise the inconsistencies of the sub-genre, and are happy to ride along with it. But just to confuse you, even though the print I viewed has the lead character called Robby Logan, I am going to call him Murphy…just because I want to.

The film opens with Murphy walking into a darkened room. He flicks over a set of infra-red lens down over the lens of another set of glasses and begins to examine a strange diagram – that looks like a symbolised schematic of the human body. Behind Murphy a secret door opens and the muzzle for a machine gun is aimed at him. A volley of shots are fired, but Logan does not die. But after such an elaborate set-up, we find out the Murph isn’t on a mission, he is at headquarters and he was simply testing out a new bullet proof vest. Then that’s it – he’s on holidays, and what do all good swinging secret agents do, when they’ve got a few weeks leave. Yep, they head to Acapulco.

When we next join Murph, he’s enjoying the surf, and the company of a beautiful brunette – but not for long. He is interrupted by a raven haired beauty that he ditched six months previously (presumably on holiday too). She is not too enamored to see him. Oh, who am I kidding – of course she is glad to see him, but first she has to spend a few minutes making him feel guilty about running out on her.

But then Murph doesn’t even get the chance to enjoy this liaison. His partner – for that read ‘fellow agent’ – Wilson (Jesús Puente) arrives in Acapulco with a new assignment. Murph is naturally reluctant to take it as he is in holiday mode. But Wilson explains that three other agents, Harvey, Stone and Margaret, have all been killed. All three were working on security for a company called Indra. Indra is described as being a ‘big European missile factory’.The target at Indra is the chief scientist on the missile program, Robert Moreau. Now Murph and Moreau share a little bit of history. Back in WW2, Murphy was imprisoned in a concentration camp called Merloc. Merloc was headed by an evil Nazi scientist named Dr. Eichmann, who used to use the prisoners as guinea pigs for his cruel and unusual experiments. Murphy was intended to participate in one of these experiments but at the last minute he was saved by one of Leichmann’s underlings, Robert Moreau. Moreau refused to carry out Eichamnn’s test and was subsequently tortured for his non-compliance. But as you can imagine, Murphy now owes his life and a huge debt of gratitude to Moreau. He readily agrees to accept the assignment. Holiday over, Murph and Wilson head to Europe.

In Spain (I presume), Murph heads to Moreau’s home. The scientist isn’t home, but his daughter Jeanne (Gaia Germani) is. She phones her father at Indra, and he promises to come home straight away. As a precaution though, Murph has Wilson tail Moreau back from Indra, but as the cars wind around a mountain road, Wilson loses Moreau. Embarrassed, Wilson radios in his failure. Murph passes on the bad news to Jeanne who is visibly upset at her father’s disappearance. Murph makes a promise that he’ll find her father and return him safely.

The mission isn’t progressing to well. Murph doesn’t have too many leads to go on. His break comes when Jeanne tries to slip away to Madrid carrying one of her fathers suitcases. As you’d expect, Murph follows her and arranges to be on the same flight. Now this is where the fun really begins.

Many EuroSpy films are currently only available in prints that can only be politely described as diabolical, and with a large proportion of these films that isn’t too big of a hurdle. Most likely you’d only watch them once in your life time. But others have just an ounce of style or even an animal magnetism (if a film can hold such attraction) that makes you want to revisit it – and even more, long for a pristine print so you can see the film as was originally intended. Ypotron, for me, is one such film. I am not going to lie to you and say that it’s a good film, but it does have this strange electricity about it – an animal magnetism that makes me enjoy – nay, even respect this film despite all its goofy flaws. It has a great surf guitar soundtrack which is layered with a hint of cheesy Hammond organ, and the title song by The Sorrows will get stuck in your head for days – even if it makes no sense ‘Yee Po Tron’! Added to this, there’s a great Flamenco musical number that’s coupled with a primal strip-tease act.

If you’re after gadgets, this film has a bargain basement full of them; from cigarette lighter communicators, oil bombs, hidden cameras and tape recorders, listening devices, and of course, as featured in the intro, Murphy’s rose coloured glasses.

Naturally the film has a lunk-headed leading man and sandy haired Davilla fits that bill nicely. The girls are great too, As the good girl we get Gaia Germani who certainly is a looker. For the bad girl , but not too bad, we are presented with Janine Reynaud in bleach blonde hair. Most people recognise Reynaud as the fiery redhead in Jess Franco’s Red Lips films, Two Under Cover Angels and Kiss Me Monster. She also appeared as a femme fatale in Killers are Challenged.

All in all, I think Ypotron is a great little package. I don’t expect everyone to share my enthusiasm, but at the end of the day, who are you going to trust – your well thumbed pages of your Leonard Maltin Video Guide or me?

Of course that’s redundant because Ypotron doesn’t appear in the Maltin guide. You have to trust me. Evil maniacal laughter trails into the distance…

Oh, sorry! one last little bit – a small warning for those who may be put off or offended by witnessing a bullfight. Ypotron features a rather graphic one (although the effect is diminished by the quality of the print I acquired). But if you believe that watching such images would upset you, then may I suggest you give this film a miss.

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